Organisations globally are facing a wave of volatile and disruptive forces, requiring employees to thrive in an uncertain world with multidisciplinary skill sets. As demand for skills evolves rapidly, so is the world of education. Students can no longer afford to graduate from high school feeling uncertain about their career path and what they would like to accomplish after university. Schools have a critical role in providing students the early exposure to careers, while preparing them for the world beyond classrooms.
Education institutions in the UAE have taken a proactive approach to navigating the ever-changing higher education landscape and the job market, helping learners develop the skills, knowledge, and competence to succeed in college and beyond.
“Choosing a career is a unique process for everyone, and for many students, it’s a daunting task to choose a career from a wide range of options,” says Antony Koshy, Principal, Global Indian International School (GIIS) in Dubai.
“Global Schools Foundation (GSF) employs the services of Mindler and Cialfo, online career resources for students. All high school students of GIIS have access to these services. Students also go for psychometric tests to identify their aptitude and interests,” he says.
At GIIS Dubai, a full-time school counsellor runs the complete career-readiness programme, introducing various career paths to students through talks from experts, leadership lecture series, career fairs, and internship programmes.
“GIIS Dubai also offers a structured University Connect programme, starting from psychometric tests to identification of career paths, portfolio preparation and management, and university placement. A segment of this programme also focuses on inculcating the right attitude needed for the programme/career of their choice.”
Focus on science and tech
With AI, robotics and other digital innovations changing the nature of work, demand for careers in science and tech is rising. UAE schools are turning to innovative teaching practices to prepare students from very early on for the new world of work with scientific and technical skills.
GIIS Dubai, for example, has launched a unique programme, RISE (Robotics-Innovation-STREAM-Exploration) — a well-structured holistic learning module for students that offers weekly activities and monthly innovation challenges to stimulate curiosity, creativity, critical thinking and innovation among students.
“It’s critical to recognise our students as 21st century learners who require a different approach to the schooling experience,” says Brian Gray, Principal, Springdales School, Dubai.
“Education is crucial for future economic prosperity. And we know that young learners need the right skills to operate in an information-rich world,” he says.
Gray adds, “Integration of science, technology, engineering, maths (STEM) is crucial in the early years. It allows 21st century learners to think critically, collaborate with their peers, and participate in active, hands-on learning.”
Making the right career choice
Meanwhile, prestigious British school Durham Dubai, which opens doors in August, is looking to guide students towards the right career path based on their talent and abilities.
“It is essential that staff know the pupils well and are able to work with them and their families to guide them into the correct subject choices,” says Principal Mark Atkins.
Skills to develop
“In a competitive career market, social skills, manners and confidence are important and must never be underrated. Academic results alone are not enough and it is important to Durham Dubai that their pupils stand out from the crowd,” Atkins explains.
Education for the 21st century is as much about academics as it’s about non-academic competence such as analytical thinking and innovation, creativity, complex problem-solving, resilience, reasoning and flexibility.
“It is essential that pupils are rounded and grounded – there is more to a person than their academic ability,” says Atkins. “They must be able to communicate effectively, have emotional intelligence and empathy if they are to be successful human beings. Therefore, the right approach to career preparation is to ensure that pupils have a breath of experience and are encouraged to pursue interest in a number of fields.” ■